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Fort Wayne Sports History

YOU CAN WIN! To enter to win a copy of the book, tweet at@BlakeSebring with a link to your favorite "Fort Wayne Sports History" story featured on news-sentinel.com and the #fwsportshistory hash tag. The winner will be notified via Twitter when the drawing is over in September.


Time to vote for the all-time best

 (published September 10)

Part of the reason behind writing the book ``Fort Wayne Sports History'' is because I hoped to spark debates like ``Who was the most famous athlete ever to play in Fort Wayne?'' Who would you pick from among Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Wilt Chamberlain, Jack Nicklaus, Bill Russell or Gordie Howe?

NBA Formed in Fort Wayne

 (published September 2)

In 2007, the Basketball Hall of Fame debuts a presentation highlighting Fort Wayne as the birthplace of the NBA. For more than 50 years, former Fort Wayne Pistons executive Carl Bennett had been saying Fort Wayne should be recognized as the birthplace of the National Basketball Association. While not declaring an official designation, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., decided to present an exhibit this summer telling Bennett's story.

Ruth, Yankees make a visit to Fort Wayne

 (published August 26)

In 1927 Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees play the Lincoln Lifers. Fort Wayne has a fantastic baseball history, thanks in part to the Lincoln Lifers, a semi-pro team sponsored by Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. The squad regularly played exhibition games against Major League teams during the 1920s.

TinCaps win in new ballpark

 (published August 19)

Playing their first season at Parkview Field, and under a new nickname, the TinCaps started the year with a 10-game winning streak and stayed hot all season. They won the Eastern Division title in both halves of the season and swept the championship series in three games against Burlington. 

Bill Wambsganss pulls World Series triple play

 (published August 12)

 In 1920, Bill Wambsganss pulls off the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. Bill Wambsganss played in the major leagues for 13 years, but he has become known for only one thing.

Lloy Ball wins Olympic gold in fourth try

 (published August 5)

Woodburn-native Lloy Ball figured his career with the United States Men's Volleyball Team was over. The odd thing is, the further away he got from the American team, the more success he had playing overseas, winning pro-league titles in Greece, Italy and Russia. 

City hosts one of first attempts at night baseball

 (published July 29)

In 1883, one of the first attempts at night baseball was played in Fort Wayne. Today there is some debate over when and where the first night baseball game was played. History says there was a game played Sept. 2, 1880 in Hull, Massachusetts between teams representing two prominent department stores.

Komets sweep to 1993 Turner Cup

(published July 22)

In 1993, the Komets complete their 12-0 playoff sweep by beating San Diego. The Komets celebrated like little boys on the last day of school, leaping into each other's arms in a group hug. The San Diego Gulls were swept 4-0, losing 6-1 in Game 4 before a standing-room- only crowd of 8,154 at Memorial Coliseum.

Fort Wayne named No. 1 minor league city

 (published July 15)

Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal named Fort Wayne the No. 1 minor-league sports city in America. One of Fort Wayne's most noticeable traits is that nothing seems to change. For once, that's was major advantage. 

Matt Vogel wins Olympic Gold medals

 (published July 9)

When Matt Vogel swam for gold medals in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, he was one of the first swimmers to shave his head before a competition. Vogel believed that the smooth, slippery feel gave him a psychological and physical advantage. 

Pistons played for two NBA titles

 (published July 1)

The Syracuse Nationals won 92-91 when George King hit a free throw with 12 seconds left and then stole the ball from Andy Phillip in the final seconds. 

Kekiongas help start the National League

 (published June 24)

In 1871, the Kekiongas play the Cleveland Forest Citys in what is believed to be the first professional baseball game. After the Civil War, the Fort Wayne Kekiongas baseball team was formed in 1866.  

Rod Woodson inducted into Hall of Fame

 (published June 17)

Woodson could do everything on a football field, and he often did. A first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, Woodson, then 44, was inducted along with receiver Bob Hayes, offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, defensive lineman Bruce Smith, linebacker Derrick Thomas and owner Ralph Wilson. 

Harper, Yoder-Begley race into history

 (published June 10)

In leading Harding High School to consecutive state championships in 1995 and 1996, Harper won 11 state titles: three in the 100-meter dash, three in the 200-meter dash, three in the long jump and two in the 400-meter relay.That's 11 titles in 11 attempts.

Wichman wins Fort Wayne's first Olympic gold

(published June 3)

In 1968, Sharon Wichman wins the gold medal in the 200 breast stroke. When Sharon Wichman started competing in the mid-1960s, there was a boys swimming team at Snider High School, but not one for girls. A few years later, Wichman said she was the only female swimmer she knew of at the time.

City hosts NBA All-Star Game

(published May 27)

In 1953, Fort Wayne hosts the third NBA All-Star Game which is also the first nationally televised pro basketball game. A record crowd of 10,340 showed up to see the best basketball players in the world put on a show. The first two all-star games had been played in Boston, drawing a crowd of 10,094 the year before.